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Oldsmobile's Intrigue was one of GM's most promising products when it was released in 1998, but quality stumbling blocks and a muddled brand identity helped to quash sales hopes. Now that the bugs are ironed out, the Intrigue is scheduled to die at the end of this year.
Cleanly styled inside and out, available stability control, sophisticated 3.5-liter V6 engine.
Cheap interior materials, rear seat room tight for adults, sketchy reliability record.
Available Intrigue Models
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LATCH child-seat anchors and two new colors are added, along with a standard CD player. GLS models receive additional standard equipment that includes a two-tone leather interior, sunroof and a HomeLink system. This is the last year for the Oldsmobile Intrigue.
Too bad Oldsmobile is headed for the obituary list, because the Intrigue represented one of the best domestic alternatives to Japan's best-selling four doors. Aimed squarely at the Accord and Camry, Intrigue features a functional sedan design inside and out that delivers a minimum of glitz and a maximum of ergonomic operation. Providing tight space for five adults, the Intrigue offers acceptable interior room without a bulky exterior size or hefty curb weight. Built on a rigid structural backbone, Olds gave its midsize front-driver a four-wheel independent suspension, disc brakes and ABS. The GX is a fully equipped base model, while moving up to the GL nets extras such as a dual-zone air conditioner, fog lamps, keyless entry and upgraded mirrors, seats and sound system. The GLS comes with fake wood trim inside, the OnStar communications system and even more standard equipment for 2002 that includes a two-tone leather interior, sunroof and HomeLink system. All Intrigues are powered by GM's 24-valve 3.5-liter V6 (based on the Aurora V8) that sends a torquey 215 horsepower through a four-speed electronically controlled transmission. The Intrigue also features the Precision Control System (PCS) that uses sensors to measure the speed of each wheel as well as steering and yaw angles. If a panic stop, quick swerve or slick pavement forces the car into a skid, the system applies selective braking to bring the car back under control. Driving the Intrigue feels more like driving an import than a typical Oldsmobile. Speed-sensitive steering offers good feedback, and the brake pedal is easy to modulate. Seats are comfy and supportive. While the car is fairly big, it doesn't feel like it from the driver seat, thanks to responsive handling and good visibility. However, the speed-sensitive steering can feel rather unnatural when its ratio and weighting change in mid corner. Understated styling provides strong family ties to other Oldsmobiles in the headlights, front fascia and rear flanks. And Intrigue's twin-cam V6 not only provides stout acceleration and good fuel economy, but it does so without the need for premium fuel, unlike many other performance-oriented V6 powerplants in this class. Pricing is in line with the Toyota Camry V6, the Nissan Maxima, and the Mercury Sable. Offering style, room and power, the Oldsmobile Intrigue is one sedan priced in the mid-20s that shoppers should at least test-drive when searching for their next family sedan, especially since Oldsmobile dealers will be blowing them out clearance sale-style.
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